Govt targets $4b from ship exports by 2025
The cabinet yesterday approved the Shipbuilding Industry Development Policy 2020 to facilitate the growth of the labour-intensive sector and generate export earnings. The policy aims to fetch $4 billion through ship exports by 2025, according to Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam. Under the policy, benefits and loans can be accessed by shipbuilders. This will also help create more employment opportunities and reduce the country’s import dependence, Islam said during a press briefing at the secretariat. In order to implement the policy, there are plans to reduce taxes and VAT as well as provide long-term loans to public and private shipbuilders. Bangladesh started exporting modern ships to other countries in 2008, and since then, it has earned around $180 million by exporting 40 ships to several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. There are 100 shipyards and dockyards in Bangladesh. Still, only five of them follow international standards, the entrepreneur said, adding that the plan to earn $4 billion from exports depends on how well this policy is implemented.
BB in a tight spot
The central bank plans to continue its expansionary monetary policy in the second half of the current fiscal year because of the persistent business slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The monetary policy committee of the central bank will sit on January 31 to decide whether the unconventional tools of the policy will be revised, said a number of central bankers with direct knowledge about the matter. Although there is little probability of inflation escalating at this moment, the excess liquidity has already had an adverse impact on the interest rate of fixed deposit schemes, largely hovering between 3 to 4 per cent.The excess liquidity at banks surged 95 per cent year-on-year to Tk 204,700 crore in December, data from the central bank showed. Credit demand from borrowers is still subdued because of the uncertainty. As a result, the surplus liquidity has been on the rise in recent months. In its monetary policy statement for fiscal 2020-21, the central bank set a private sector credit growth target of 11.5 per cent by December last year and of 14.8 per cent by June this year. The central bank has already missed its credit growth target for the first half of the fiscal year as loans expanded by 8.37 per cent in December. Both the central bank and the government have rolled out 23 bailout packages to absorb the economic shocks arising from the pandemic. The total amount of financial assistance stands at Tk 124,053 crore, which is 4.44 per cent of the gross domestic product. The BB cut the repurchase agreement (repo) rate in phases to 4.75 per cent, from 6 per cent before the pandemic. The bank rate, another tool of the central bank, was brought down by 100 basis points to 4 per cent in July, the first such cut in 17 years. The BB uses the rate while giving out money to banks under its refinance scheme. The central bank has purchased the American greenback worth a record $5.49 billion in the first half of the current fiscal year to keep stable the exchange rate of the local currency. The previous highest was recorded in 2013-14 when the BB bought $5.15 billion.
DSEX slumps below 5,800-mark
Stocks extended the losing streak on Monday, with the key index of the major bourse dipping below 5,800-mark after seven days, as cautious investors continued profit booking on sector-wise issues. DSEX, the prime index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), went down by 25.61 points or 0.44 per cent to settle at 5,789. DSEX lost roughly 46 points in the past two straight sessions. Two other indices also edged lower. The DSE 30 Index comprising blue chips fell 8.17 points to finish at 2,202 and the DSE Shariah Index (DSES) shed 0.41 point to close at 1,296. Recently the stock market regulator fixed the highest interest rate at 12 per cent on margin loan disbursed against listed securities with the highest spread on the cost of margin loans at 3.0 per cent. Turnover, a crucial indicator of the market, rose to Tk 15.85 billion on the country’s premier bourse, rising further by 8.7 per cent over the previous day’s mark of Tk 14.58 billion. Among the major sectors -cement saw the highest correction, losing 3.30 per cent, followed by telecom with 2.10 per cent, financial institution 2.10 per cent and banking 1.10 per cent. On the other hand, food and allied, pharmaceuticals and power sectors gained 0.90 per cent, 0.60 per cent and 0.30 per cent respectively. Losers took a strong lead over the gainers, as out of 359 issues traded, 202 declined, 76 advanced and 81 remained unchanged on the DSE trading floor. Beximco topped the turnover chart with 35.94 million shares worth Tk 3.303 billion changing hands, capturing nearly 21 per cent of the day’s total turnover on DSE riding on higher earnings news. Beximco has reported 255 per cent higher earnings per share (EPS) to Tk 1.92 in the first half of fiscal 2020-21, thanks to an increase in the export of personal protective equipment (PPE) and face mask. The Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) also ended lower with the CSE All Share Price Index – CASPI -losing by 108 points to settle at 16,878 and the Selective Categories Index – CSCX shedding 65 points to close at 10,188. Of the issues traded, 146 declined, 64 advanced and 48 remained unchanged on the CSE.
Govt risks making addl payment
The newly-commissioned Payra coal-fired power plant is running at less than half of its capacity from the first day due to transmission bottlenecks and insufficient demand, say officials. State-run Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) is at risk of paying mandatory rent to the 1,320 megawatt (MW) power plant sponsor, no matter whether it buys electricity or not. According to the BPDB statistics, the Payra plant generated around 440 MW of electricity during day time and 430 MW during evening peak generation on January 19, 2021. Consumers’ rights activists lamented that the necessary transmission line has yet to be readied, despite the delay in implementing the power plant project. The existing transmission facility allows the power plant to transmit a maximum of 620 MW of electricity, said a senior official of the Bangladesh-China Power Company Limited (BCPCL) that owns the plant. The second and final unit of the 660 MW Payra power plant in Patuakhali was online in December last year, a year after the initial commissioning schedule. The first unit launched its commercial operations in May 2020, missing the schedule by around 11 months. Energy adviser of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Professor M Shamsul Alam said it is an outcome of improper planning, which results in extra burden on consumers. With the operations of the plant, the country’s overall electricity generation capacity from coal-fired power plants stands at around 1,844 MW. It is around 9.0 per cent of the total output of around 20,595 MW, according to the BPDB statistics. The BCPCL, owner of the Payra coal-fired power plant, inked US$1.56 billion contract with the Chinese consortium on March 29, 2016. For implementing the project, the government has issued a state guarantee worth $1.0 billion in favour of the Chinese loan, and also allocated around 998.77 acres of land on turnkey basis.